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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Interstate Highway System


Federal Highway Administration
January 28, 1999

Thursday, January 28, 1999
Contact: Jim Pinkelman
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 5-99

Citing a recent report by the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle today said that the $1.6 billion Interstate 15 reconstruction project in Utah demonstrates that innovative methods on interstate construction projects not only can save taxpayer dollars but also provide real benefits to millions of users as the nation approaches the new millennium.

"Innovative programs that improve transportation planning demonstrate President Clinton’s commitment to building the transportation system for the 21st century—the American people will benefit with reduced traffic congestion," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "The innovative design and contracting methods used in this Interstate 15 project in Utah are an ideal example of using creative solutions to help finish more transportation projects early and at lower cost—it’s what commonsense government is all about."

The Inspector General’s report said the I-15 project, which was begun in April 1997, is ahead of schedule on construction and that its costs are well in line with previous estimates. The design-build approach will enable Utah to complete the project in 4.5 years, saving an estimated three years of time under traditional contracting methods and bringing the benefits of the improved highway to transportation users several years sooner. Because the design-build contractor is ahead of schedule, the project is scheduled to be finished in July 2001, three months before the contract completion date of October 2001. As of January 1999, the project was 53 percent complete.

"By employing innovative solutions like design-build contracting, we can initiate and complete more transportation projects sooner and at lower cost," said Wykle, who has championed the design-build construction methods. "It’s a 21st century way of doing business and an ideal example of what commonsense government is about."

Design-build, which is more common in the private sector, differs from traditional contracting in that it combines, rather than separates, responsibility for the design and the construction phases of a highway project. Since the design and construction are performed through one procurement, construction can begin before all design details are finalized.

Also, because both design and construction are performed under the same contract, claims for design errors or construction delays because of redesign are not allowed, and the potential for other kinds of claims is greatly reduced.

I-15 is the major north-south arterial in the Salt Lake City area. The project will replace six lanes with eight lanes along 16.5 miles of interstate highway, add High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and auxiliary lanes in each direction, and reconstruct 142 bridges. Utilizing technology, it also will include the latest automated traffic management system.


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